Music hacks, Raspberry Pi synthesiser

We’ve spent the last few days at the Turing Festival in Edinburgh. And the best thing we did (that party with the free whisky and the accelerometer-jousting aside) was visiting Music Hack Scotland, where we saw some pretty amazing hacks being produced at the closing show-and-tell. Favourites? Electronics newbie Annie’s hand-soldered metronome (a kick-ass demonstration that soldering is easy); the Raspberry Pi-driven soft toy/guitar hybrid (The Ducktar – I’m hoping for some video from the makers if they find some time); and an ambient music-generating unicycle.

There’s another music hack in Iceland in a couple of months. Eben and I are currently juggling our schedules to try to make it out there for the event; the hacker community in Reykjavik are some of the nicest folks we’ve met since we’ve been doing this, and the music hack promises to be another brilliant weekend.

Meanwhile, back in England…


Piana graphical user interface

When we got home, head full of ideas about encouraging people to port Max to the Raspberry Pi, we found a mail waiting for us from Omenie, one of our forum members. I really wish we’d known about this before Music Hack Scotland. He’s building a virtual analogue synthesiser called Piana (geddit?) with the Raspberry Pi, and it is absolutely one of the most exciting bits of work-in-progress I’ve seen being done with the Pi so far. (Full disclosure: a Raspberry Pi being used as a synthesiser is perfectly calculated to press all my buttons. I love it.)

Omenie says:

Later than anticipated, please check out a Raspberry Pi being – and I do not exaggerate – the best-sounding synth I’ve ever played with for under £500, never mind under £50. It was a hideous effort to get even 4 note polyphony out of it, am hoping to still get 8 by more aggressive tuning although guts have already been bust.


He’s blogging about Piana’s progress, and things are moving fast, so if you’re interested, it’s well worth checking in regularly. I hope we’ll be featuring Piana more here too as she becomes more mature. Thanks Omenie; we look forward to seeing and hearing more from you!